BOWLING GREEN – The Bowling Green State University women's basketball team roared out to an early lead and never looked back, as the Falcons dismantled Kent State University by a 76-35 final on Saturday afternoon (March 9). The game, a Mid-American Conference Tournament first-round contest, was held at the Stroh Center.
With the win, the Falcons improve to 21-9 on the season. BGSU, the fifth seed in the league tourney, advances to the second round to play ninth-seeded Western Michigan University on Wednesday (March 13). That game, and any subsequent MAC Tournament games, will be held at Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland.
The Golden Flashes see the season come to an end with a record of 3-27.
The 41-point margin of victory was BGSU's largest ever in a MAC Tournament game. Additionally, KSU's 35 points represented the fewest ever allowed by the Falcons in league tourney play.
Senior Allison Papenfuss had the first double-double of her collegiate career, as she and her classmates picked up their 100th win. Papenfuss tied her career high with 13 points, and she pulled down a game- and career-best 10 rebounds.
Papenfuss and her fellow seniors -- Simone Eli, Chrissy Steffen and Danielle Havel -- have helped the Falcons to a 100-28 record since coming to BGSU in the fall of 2009 (Havel sat out the 2009-10 season as a transfer from DePaul).
Redshirt junior Alexis Rogers tied Papenfuss for game scoring honors with 13 points. Rogers had those 13 points in just 12 minutes of work, going a perfect 5-for-5 from the field and 3-of-3 from the free-throw line.
Junior Jillian Halfhill had 10 points, along with six rebounds and game-high totals of four assists and three steals, in just 20 minutes. Halfhill had the highest minutes-played total among BG's five starters on Saturday.
The Falcons dominated the Flashes on the glass, with a 51-31 rebounding advantage for the game. In addition to the 10 boards by Papenfuss, junior Jill Stein had nine. The BGSU defense held KSU without a field goal for nearly 10 minutes to begin the game.
Freshman Bailey Cairnduff had nine points off the bench for BG, while Steffen scored eight and Stein and sophomore Deborah Hoekstra seven apiece.
Freshman Miriam Justinger had five points and junior Katrina Salinas four to round out the BGSU scorers. Salinas and Steffen each had three assists in the win.
Tamzin Barroilhet led the Golden Flashes with 12 points and seven rebounds off the bench. No other KSU player had more than six points in the game.
The Falcons opened up a 24-4 lead with just over eight minutes gone, forcing KSU into two timeouts in that stretch. The Flashes scored back-to-back buckets, but the hosts quickly restored that 20-point advantage, before holding KSU scoreless over the final 4:31 of the first half. BGSU scored the final eight points of the period to take a 44-16 lead into the locker room.
That lead steadily grew over the first 12 minutes of the second period, until the hosts had a 50-point advantage, 74-24, with 8:12 remaining. The Falcons scored just two points the rest of the game, as KSU ended the game on an 11-2 run to make the final margin 41 points.
That margin, as mentioned, was the Falcons' largest ever in a MAC Tournament game. The previous program mark was a 90-51 win over Toledo in the championship game of the 1989 MAC Tournament.
Believe it or not, BGSU got off to a somewhat slow start. Neither team scored for over two minutes to start the game, but Steffen slipped out to the left wing, took a pass from Havel and knocked down a shot from beyond the arc to give the Falcons a lead they would never relinquish.
Rogers hit a pair of free throws for a 5-0 lead, before the Flashes got on the board with two shots from the stripe by Leslie Schaefer. But, the seas parted for Steffen, who drove down a suddenly wide-open lane for a layup. Moments later, Rogers worked her way through the paint for a layup and a 9-2 lead.
Some nifty passing by the Falcons led to a Rogers jumper, with the final pass in that sequence coming from Steffen. Then, after a KSU missed shot, Rogers found Justinger for a corner three and a 14-2 lead as the Flashes used a timeout.
The visitors got back to the free-throw line and hit a pair of shots, but Halfhill fed Steffen for a three-pointer late in the shot clock, and a sweet touch pass from Justinger led to a Papenfuss transition hoop. The latter bucket gave the Falcons a 19-4 lead.
The Flashes turned the ball back over to the Brown and Orange, and Steffen found Papenfuss for a shot off glass. Then, Halfhill hit a triple try from out top, and the Falcons had a 10-0 run and a 24-4 lead with just over eight minutes gone, as KSU burned another timeout.
At that point in the game, the Falcons had made more shots (going 9-of-14 from the field) than the Flashes had taken (0-of-7).
Kent State's drought would reach eight field-goal tries to begin the game, but Ashley Evans hit a shot in the paint with 10:04 left before halftime to snap that slump. After a BG miss, Evans knocked down another jumper on the Flashes' next possession, and it was the Falcons' turn to call timeout.
Steffen lobbed a pass inside to Stein for a layup, but Schaefer came back with a jumper. Rogers answered with a layup, however, and Halfhill was fouled on a three-point try. The junior made all three free throws, giving the hosts a 31-10 lead.
The Flashes went on a mini-run, scoring four of the next five points, but a jumper by Heather Bachman with 4:31 on the clock would prove to be KSU's final points of the period. The Falcons scored the final 10 points before intermission, with Papenfuss scoring the first six.
First, Halfhill drove and whipped a pass across her body to Papenfuss for a jumper and a 36-16 lead. Then, Salinas proceeded to assist on three-straight BG buckets.
The junior from Sacramento, Calif., found an open Papenfuss on an inbounds play with 1:44 left in the period, and she then fired a long pass ahead to Papenfuss for a transition layup after a KSU miss. Papenfuss, who was fouled on the play, could not get the free throw to drop, but Stein came up with the offensive board, and the possession ended with Hoekstra hitting a pair of tosses from the stripe.
After a KSU turnover, Salinas dribbled from right to left across the paint and flipped a no-look pass to a wide-open Stein for an easy layup, giving the Falcons a 44-16 lead at the break.
BG made 15 field goals to the Flashes' five in that opening period, and the Falcons had advantages of 26-15 in rebounding, 14-0 in points off turnovers and 17-4 in bench scoring.
The second half saw Rogers score the first five points, on an 'and-one' putback and free throw with just 13 seconds gone, as well as a right-side jumper that barely moved the net at the 18:57 mark. KSU responded with six-straight points, but Havel made a leaping save of a teammate's errant pass, tossing the ball to Cairnduff just before going out of bounds. Cairnduff, in front of her team's bench, drained a three-point try that gave the Falcons a 55-22 lead.
That shot began a 10-0 run for the home team, with Cairnduff scoring five of those 10 points. After a KSU miss, Papenfuss ran the floor, took a long pass from Halfhill and laid the ball off glass and in. Then, Stein stepped out beyond the arc and drained a triple try as the shot clock neared zero. After another KSU missed shot, Cairnduff faked a three-point shot, took a dribble to elude her would-be defender and hit a long two-point shot for a 59-22 BG lead.
Barroilet's layup stopped the bleeding momentarily, but the Falcons came right back with a 15-0 run, holding the Flashes scoreless for a six-and-a-half-minute span. Halfhill's free throws were followed by a second-chance jumper from Cairnduff. Cairnduff then fed Hoekstra for a three-pointer, before hitting another jumper at the 10:47 mark.
Hoekstra came up with an offensive board, was fouled and hit both ensuing free-throw tries. Then, Salinas got to the line on back-to-back BG possessions, knocking down all four shots for a 74-24 lead with 8:12 to go. The Flashes ended the game by scoring 11 of the last 13 points to cut their deficit from 50 to 41 points.
The Falcons shot an even 40 percent from the field for the game, but BG held Kent State to just a 24.5% success rate, including a 19.2% effort in the first half. The Falcons went 7-of-24 from three-point range, while holding the Flashes without a long-distance shot. KSU was 0-of-11 from beyond the arc.
BGSU went 21-of-25 from the free-throw line, with Halfhill a perfect 7-of-7 from the stripe and Hoekstra and Salinas each going 4-of-4. The Flashes made 9-of-15 free-throw attempts.
Only two players saw more than 20 minutes of action for the Falcons, as Papenfuss played a team-leading 27 minutes and Stein 24. Cairnduff saw 22 minutes of playing time on Saturday, while none of BGSU's five starters played more than 20 minutes vs. the Flashes.
For the second time in as many home games vs. Kent State this year, the BGSU bench not only outscored the Falcon starters, but the BG reserves also outscored the entire KSU team. The Falcons' bench players combined for 40 points on Saturday, while holding the KSU bench to 18.
The Falcons' second-round game vs. Western Michigan will be Wednesday (March 13), with tipoff scheduled for 12:00 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena. The winner of the BGSU-WMU game will take on fourth-seeded Central Michigan University the following day, with that game also set for a noon start.